The Importance of Networking for PR Pros

As public relations and communications professionals, we’re no strangers to speaking with new people. Whether it’s clients, reporters or influencers – we are constantly networking.

However, when was the last time you networked outside of the usual “people you kind of already know?” I’m talking about walking into a room and not knowing anyone. Does the thought alone make your hands sweat? If so, you aren’t alone! In fact, one in four professionals admit they don’t network at all. But let’s change that.

Networking is a vital skill for PR and communications professionals. I’m a firm believer in stepping out of your comfort zone and the minute you do – you’ll see growth. Here are four reasons why you need to find a networking event ASAP and sharpen your skills.

Job opportunities.
It may be hard to believe, but most millennials actually love to network, as there can be hundreds of job opportunities that come from it. According to Virgin Wireless, 85 percent of positions are filled through networking alone. So, if you’re unemployed or unhappy in your current position, explore various networking opportunities. You never know what they may turn into!

Helpful tip: As a recent college grad, I found my success in networking after collecting business cards and emailing those who I met the next day. It shows your connections that you are serious and interested in the conversation. With this process, you’re guaranteed to make an impression. Plus, it allows you to stick out of the crowd. Not everyone, nor even half will email their new connections the next day! 

Gaining new ideas.
It’s common for mid-level employees and professionals to enjoy networking, but the end result can sometimes look different. Instead of seeking job opportunities, they like to connect to share ideas and gain new insight. For example, you may be having a difficult time reaching an audience in a thought-provoking way. However, if we are networking with other like-minded professionals, your connections may have insight on how to better reach the audience in question. 

Meeting professionals who have the same challenges but are willing to share their solutions is a great form of encouragement. Learn to rely on your network when things get tough. Sharing information is a key role in communications careers, and I challenge you to share ideas at your next networking opportunity. 

Finding new business opportunities.
Networking can also bring upon fresh business opportunities in places you might not expect. Typically, this is where the big bang on ROI kicks in. People you meet networking can often help you to identify new market opportunities you might not have thought of previously.

For example, are you a freelancer wanting to tap into the nonprofit market? Research nonprofit networking events near you and make those connections.

Finding the right mentors.
When I was in college, I was grateful enough to be placed with a professional mentor and I truly believe through that professional relationship, I was taught valuable skills. I was able to make more connections, gain real-world knowledge and have a professional reference at hand if I ever needed it.

You’re never too young or too old for a professional mentor. The key is to find someone who can teach you and advise when things get tough. I recommend finding someone in a position higher than yours, as they often have already navigated those rough waters and paved the way.

Already have a mentor? Consider becoming one yourself. While at networking events, connect with younger professionals or students. Not only will they be thrilled to learn from someone with more experience, but those relationships can even grow into life-long friendships.

Networking is vital in our profession, and you should treat it as such. Research local groups in your area for networking opportunities. A good place to start are chambers of commerce, professional associations and more.

A few of my local Indy favorites are below!

Grab your professional blazer and practice your handshake, because you are officially ready to network!

Want to professionally network with our Dittoe PR staff? We meet with local students and professionals often to grab coffee and chat about opportunities. Check out our team page – we’d love to hear from you!

The Importance of Building A Personal Brand in PR

When it comes to communicating in the business world, there’s nothing more important than strong, authentic branding. When done properly, a brand tells a story, builds a customer base and captures attention. As PR professionals, we are often so focused on building our clients’ brands that we forget about the importance of our own personal brands.

In my previous blog post, I discussed the growing importance of visuals in the 21st century. Well, coinciding with this hot topic, it has become increasingly more imperative for PR professionals to build and maintain a strong image – or personal brand – to further the success of their company.

Personal branding is the practice of individuals marketing themselves and their careers as brands. It signifies who you are as a professional, and as we know, image speaks volumes in today’s world. Personal branding is not simply boasting your successes, but instead, an opportunity to promote your company, skill sets and accomplishments in a way that rings true to who you are and what you’re working to achieve in the industry.

In this article, I’ll highlight three ways #PRpros can leverage their own personal brand – whether it be via social media or social networking – to further promote their company and ensure long-term success. 

Establishing credibility
Your personal brand can add tremendous value to your company in a way that offers a realistic glimpse into who is behind the success. People like to know people. In particular, potential clients want to know the team members they will be working with. They want to know they can trust them, and that they’ll conduct business in a way that rings true to the company’s vision and values. The first places they’ll go to retrieve this information is either LinkedIn, Google or quite possibly, Instagram.

If your presence is nonexistent, then uh-oh, you may raise some red flags.

Is this person real?
Do they care about their job?
Who exactly am I working with?

That’s probably what colleagues asked when I left my Instagram blank for months. However, now, I’ve learned the value in my personal brand. Whether its tagging your company in your bio, sharing client coverage on your feed, or capturing the most recent team building event, your personal brand serves as an excellent platform to advocate for your company. If employees and high-level executives maintain trustworthy, authentic personal brands, then in turn, the company will be perceived as the same.

Enhancing storytelling
At the core of every PR professional is their passion for storytelling. It’s what drives our efforts and essentially lands us clients. Well, a personal brand in itself tells a story – your story. Between your hobbies, how you conduct yourself over the phone, the articles you read and share online, and the clothes you wear, your brand tells the story of your life, and if leveraged appropriately, your career. It has the power to transform your company from a faceless brand to a group of passionate professionals.

Furthermore, your approach towards storytelling can prove much more impactful than the typical cut and dry corporate approach. Taking a client story or company win, adding a personal touch or authentic tone to it and re-sharing it with your audience can prove much more impactful. In fact, when brand messages are shared by employees on social media, the estimated reach of a post increases by 561%when compared to the same messages shared by the brand’s social media channels. See, people like people, and your personal brand – comical, glamourous, sophisticated or whatever it may be – can capture the story in a greater way that leaves a lasting impression and sparks interest in your company.

Strengthening recruitment
As a millennial, social media is my channel of choice to help build my personal brand. And pretty frequently, my friends, family and industry peers react to the numerous posts I share involving any company events or my career success:

Your job looks so fun!
What an incredible story!
OMG that’s amazing!


They don’t realize it, but I am leveraging my attempt at a “witty yet refined” personal brand to advocate for my company. By integrating my personal values and company culture into my personal brand, I’ve attracted like-minded folks and cultivated a desire to work at Dittoe PR. Therefore, personal branding serves as a key player in talent acquisition, which can lead to 33% higher revenue for your company. While it’s easy to focus entirely on building the company brand, it’s the people behind the brand that potential clients, colleagues and consumers connect with most and evoke behavior – whether it be clicking the story link, signing the contract or applying for the position.

If your personal brand is already well-established, but you’d like some assistance with your company’s brand – we’re just a click away from helping you craft the professional image your business desires.

Signs a Career in PR Might Be for You

I wasn’t one of those kids who knew exactly what they wanted to do when they grew up. Some kids want to be doctors or veterinarians or teachers from the first time they’re asked that question until they graduate from college with a job lined up. What I wanted to be when I grew up had something to do with reading and writing and books – and to be a princess, of course.

Skip to college admissions time, and I just knew I wanted to be a music teacher… but you can’t be a music teacher if you aren’t accepted to the school of music. Then, I just knew I wanted to be an English teacher… until I realized I didn’t actually want to teach at all. One English literature degree, graduate certificate program, and internship later, I knew what my career was going to be: non-profit marketing.

As I write to you on a PR agency’s blog, it’s clear that non-profit marketing was indeed not my forever career. However, my education and experiences did lead me to public relations, and I can trace the breadcrumbs of my interests and skills that make PR the perfect career for me – and maybe for you, too. Here are four signs a career in PR might be for you:

1. You like to write.
Writing is a rewarding, if challenging, pastime. Ask any author on Twitter and they’ll let you know how much of a challenge it can be to get the right words on paper. When you get to tell a compelling true story, though, and it results in national media coverage, it’s hard not to be delighted to write every day. Whether it’s a press release for a client’s latest capital fund raise, a blog post for a product that’s changing kids’ lives, or even an award nomination so a client can receive deserved recognition for the amazing company culture they’ve built, the reward for touting all the amazing things our clients do far outweighs any challenges.

2. You are addicted to NPR, morning radio shows or evening news programs.
I used to have a 45-minute commute around Indy. On the fifth day in a row where I heard the same three songs and 10 commercials in a 20-minute window, I had to do something to stimulate my brain during rush hour. I found Indy’s local NPR station, WFYI, and I haven’t changed my radio since. I feel lost if I don’t know what’s going on in the world, in the US and here in Indiana.

In PR, this is a huge asset. “Newsjacking” is an opportunity we take advantage of often. If we hear an interesting story and one of our clients has a timely counterpoint to share, we can reach out to that reporter with our client’s unique viewpoint. And newsjacking doesn’t only apply to serious news. If a client has a fun event coming up and you know that your favorite morning DJ would love to attend, reach out! It could be a win-win for the client and the station – not to mention all the people who will want to check out the event when they hear about it during their own commute.

3. You’re bored by cyclical or repetitive projects.
Non-profits are ruled by the fundraising calendar cycle: Spring drive, summer event, fall drive, Giving Tuesday, holiday giving, repeat. Finding new ways to spruce up fundraisers can be a fun exercise, but once you’ve done it three, four, five times, the repetition can be draining. Hands down, my favorite thing about working at a PR agency is that no two projects look the same – even if you think they are on the surface. Creating a strategic social media plan for two clients may sound like the same project, but when one is for a hospitality client and the other is for a utilities company, those plans are going to look completely different. Having clients from multiple industries located in multiple states all with varying needs means every day at Dittoe is different, and so is every project.

4. You’re results-driven and tenacious.
I wouldn’t say I’m the most competitive person in the world – or in the Dittoe office, for that matter. But I do strive to exceed my clients’ expectations when executing projects. When a client hires Dittoe to secure coverage, I am driven to ensure they get the coverage they want, and then some. This can mean sending more emails in a day than I could have dreamed or spending time researching topics I don’t know much about. At the end of the day, though, when all that research and all those emails result in national coverage, stellar social media metrics, or a really great story, every minute is worth it.

These are by no means the only skills necessary to work in PR. If you’re entering the workforce for the first time, or looking at changing up your career, take stock of your interests in addition to your skills and education. You never know when having a favorite “All Things Considered” host or a penchant for local business newsletters might come in handy.